Virginity Obsession

I just read this very insightful analysis of the obsession with female virginity in YA literature. It isn’t just YA literature that is obsessed with this topic either. The entire genre of romance and erotica shares this fixation. So why does that happen? Why is there such an obsessive interest in the mythical hymen that most women do not even possess?

Given that women constitute the majority of readers interested in these books, we have to conclude that women, not men, are the ones obsessed with female virginity*. The reason for that, I believe, is how unhappy most women are with their sex lives. Many women trade sexual desire for an opportunity to be in a relationship with a great guy who suits them in every aspect except sexually.

The obsessive return to the topic of virginity is, for these women, an opportunity to go back to the beginning of their sex lives in search of the moment where it all went wrong. They have a vague feeling that somehow sexuality does not work for them the way it should. The repetitive return to the origins of that misery is an attempt to engage in a symbolic recreation of their own first sexual experience in the hopes that a “perfect” loss of virginity would result in a great sex life.

Of course, this project never works. Once the patriarchal conditioning that prevents a free and happy exercise of female sexuality is put in place, once the relational and / or sacrificial model of sexuality is adopted, only a massive amount of hard work will enable a woman to get rid of these impediments.

Replaying one’s first sexual encounter and attempting to create a fantasy in its place will not help. On her road to sexual liberation, a woman needs to go much earlier in time to find the moment when her physiology was taken hostage by the patriarchal conditioning.

* I’m talking exclusively about the developed Western societies in this post.

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154 thoughts on “Virginity Obsession”

  1. “Many women trade sexual desire for an opportunity to be in a relationship with a great guy who suits them in every aspect except sexually.”

    And they keep saying sex isn’t the most important thing in a relationship, or that it is only important at the beginning and is only a superficial aspect of the relationship, or that if it is not interesting, it can be improved with “hard work,” or that if it is not interesting, it is because there is something else wrong in the relationship.

    From that POV I am very naive since I think it is the most important thing, it is important later not just sooner, it is not superficial, it is unlikely to improve if it does not start well, and that it is probably the root, not the symptom, of other aspects of the relationship.

    (Yes, of course there is bad behavior that can kill desire, etc., but I’m talking general paradigm here.)

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    1. “From that POV I am very naive since I think it is the most important thing, it is important later not just sooner, it is not superficial, it is unlikely to improve if it does not start well, and that it is probably the root, not the symptom, of other aspects of the relationship.”

      – I think you are me. 🙂 I’m not finding a whole lot of people who’d agree with me on this. Which is kind of sad.

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      1. I agree with you, although I wish it weren’t so. I was with a great guy for a year. Can’t say a single bad thing about him. Kind, selfless, smart, creative, affectionate, mature, handsome. But! He had a low libido and couldn’t even come close to satisfying me sexually. We tried very hard to “work” on it– I tried to settle for less, he tried to push himself to want it more. It was so miserable! How painful and humiliating to feel that your partner doesn’t desire you, to be reduced to begging for sex and know that you’ll almost certainly be rejected. How boring and sad to be in a passionless relationship. The sex, fwiw, was good, and he was a great sex partner once in the bed. Just way too infrequent for me, and he didn’t lust for me like I did for him. Finally accepted him as he was, saw that it was NEVER going to change for the better (it would only get worse), and decided that I couldn’t at the grand age of 25 resign myself to the fate of an unhappy sex life forever… even if it was with a “great guy.” I was depressed at the time and, trying to make excuses for him, would tell myself that surely my sadness and episodes wore away at his desire for me. Deep down, though, I knew that, just as Z said, the bad sex was the main cause of my unhappiness, not a symptom.

        I always appreciate it when you write about how integral sexual satisfaction is to relationship happiness. It helps remind me that I made the right choice when I miss him and fall into those stupid “But what if…?” kinds of thoughts. I agree that sex is the most important thing because what else is there but sex that you can’t pursue and enjoy with a close friend? He was so cerebral and intellectual and passionate about literature and math. Great, and he had gads of friends he could intensely share those interests with. It was hard to accept in the end that all we had was a friendship, and it never should have gone further than that. Well, these are the hard things you learn about yourself when you’re young. Whether you use your self-knowledge to then attain happiness or settle for misery is up to you. It is so difficult, though, to walk out once you’ve intertwined your life and heart with someone else! Believe me, in my next relationships, sex will have a very prominent position from the beginning. I won’t let myself fall in love with someone and merge my life with theirs only to then realize that we’re sexually incompatible. I was way too naive and stupidly optimistic before.

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        1. “I agree that sex is the most important thing because what else is there but sex that you can’t pursue and enjoy with a close friend?”

          – Exactly! By the end of my first marriage, I had absolutely no idea how to explain to myself what distinguished our relationship from that of roommates.

          “He was so cerebral and intellectual and passionate about literature and math. Great, and he had gads of friends he could intensely share those interests with. It was hard to accept in the end that all we had was a friendship, and it never should have gone further than that.”

          – And this, in a nutshell, is the story of my first marriage. 🙂 At least, it’s good to know that I got out of that in time and started looking for different kind of fulfillment.

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  2. But other explanations are so illogical. Sex, which you should have with one person, whom it is statistically possible for you to meet, is the expression of the perfect love you have for that person, which you could have for no other … you have to know them well to know whether or not you are interested … none of this makes any sense.

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    1. A popular explanation is that if you like somebody’s personality and enjoy spending time with them, sexual attraction will eventually ensue. One of the side effects of this belief is that people can’t accept that men and women can be friends without any sexual subtext. I can’t tell you how often I hear from people, ‘Don’t tell me that nothing sexual ever happened between you and X! You seem to have such a fantastic time together!” Like the two things are somehow interdependent.

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      1. Yes. It makes no sense. It also shows that THEY are the ones who are obsessed with sex and overemphasize it, not you or me.

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        1. “It also shows that THEY are the ones who are obsessed with sex and overemphasize it, not you or me.”

          – Good point! This reminds me of how I once told my mother that I spent the evening with my five male friends.

          “Oh God!” she exclaimed. “You engage in group sex!”

          It didn’t even cross her mind that we spent the time chatting without any sexual activities of any kind.

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  3. I was reflecting last night how I never had any expectations about anything in my life. I had no expectations regarding any kind of future, but I have made a good lifestyle for myself. I had no expectations at all about romance or sexuality, but I couldn’t be happier. In all, it seems I didn’t so much have no expectations as no social conditioning. There was some psychological conditioning, of course, but none that was determinedly social.

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    1. I have finally figured out why I like you so much. 🙂 You are very much like my husband in terms of personality. He could have left this same comment, word-for-word. I’m the exact opposite, by the way. And as they say, opposites attract. 🙂

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      1. The thing about martial arts training is that it teaches you to think in a certain way, for instance, “This is a bad situation I am in, but how do I use the other person’s power against them?” Just about every situation has an opportunity like this. The important point is not to get emotionally heated, but to use effective tactics. Very often, not reacting at all can put an enemy off balance. Or you wait a while and then react much later, when you are ready.

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  4. Hey Clarissa, low and behold I will summon up the energy to disagree with you 🙂 (although I do that a lot, I am not generally disagreeable… i usually only comment when I disagree because when I agree there is not much to be added!)

    I am not commenting quite as much just on virginity, but about the importance of sex in a relationship. I don’t think sex is the most important part of a relationship. Sure sexual pleasure is nice, but in all honesty a “true bond” or “emotional connection” is the brass ring of a relationship in my opinion. Obviously anyone (i would think) would love great sex, great intellectual talk, great bonding, etc. and the whole package, and frankly maybe more people should wait for them all.

    However, I really don’t think sex is that overwhelmingly special (maybe I’m not doing it that great… hold the jokes!) at least from a relationship perspective. To me, if you can have someone taht you enjoy being around that is important, but the most important part is really finding someone that you form an unbreakable emotional connection with you know will be there for you and that you will be there for. THAT is incredibly hard to make happen, but is very satisfying when it can be found.

    “He was so cerebral and intellectual and passionate about literature and math. Great, and he had gads of friends he could intensely share those interests with. It was hard to accept in the end that all we had was a friendship, and it never should have gone further than that.”

    I think where our messages are different (although this was a comment from another reader) is I am not saying sharing interests is what makes the relationship so great but rather sharing the “emotional bond” I keep mentioning. Having someone who you can and want to share everything (or nearly everthing) with, who you would do anything for. Getting another human being to truly almost always be there for you … that is SUPER rare.. and makes it special in my opinion.

    Lastly, I find this quote by another reader that you commmented and agree with interesting:

    “I agree that sex is the most important thing because what else is there but sex that you can’t pursue and enjoy with a close friend? ”

    Ultimately, you can easily enjoy casual sex with lots of people. Which I think you would agree with from what I have read about your non-judgemental attitude towards sex. I guess what this might all point back to what an individual craves/desires/seeks from a relationship. Kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy huh? 🙂

    If you had every other element of a relationship, then you should be able to openly talk about the sex stuff with your partner. If you both agree that is the only area lacking.. why not try to spice up your on love life (role play, dirty talk etc.), consider group sex, or even go as far as to let your partner get release from a prostitute or pick someone up at a bar. Did you consider/try this in your marriage? (I don’t mean to be too personal, so you don’t have to answer if uncomfortable). I guess my point would be if the sex is the only problem why not true all these options. The only objection I could see is then you might say “well sex is the most important part of a relationship, and it must be monogamous”… which would be interesting.. almost sounds a little like religious folk and marriage huh?

    I was having difficulty precisely wording the jumble of thoughts in my head but I hope they make sense!

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    1. ” I don’t think sex is the most important part of a relationship.”

      – I am very sorry.

      “Sure sexual pleasure is nice, but in all honesty a “true bond” or “emotional connection” is the brass ring of a relationship in my opinion.”

      – That’s your constitutional right. 🙂

      “To me, if you can have someone taht you enjoy being around that is important, but the most important part is really finding someone that you form an unbreakable emotional connection with you know will be there for you and that you will be there for.”

      – The only thing that makes such a connection unbreakable is precisely a profound sexual passion. When that is absent, the two sexually unsatisfied partners start to get on each other’s nerves and keep bickering about silly little things. Only sexual passion makes these tiny daily differences between two people exciting rather than annoying.

      “THAT is incredibly hard to make happen, but is very satisfying when it can be found.”

      – It isn’t hard at all. You just need to allow yourself to fall in love.

      ““I agree that sex is the most important thing because what else is there but sex that you can’t pursue and enjoy with a close friend? ”

      Ultimately, you can easily enjoy casual sex with lots of people. ”

      – You misunderstood the question. What this statement meant is that without sexual passion, your spouse becomes nothing but a roommate. To each his own, of course, just as long as the roommate doesn’t expect sexual fidelity and cause grave damage to your health in this manner.

      “If you had every other element of a relationship, then you should be able to openly talk about the sex stuff with your partner. If you both agree that is the only area lacking.. why not try to spice up your on love life (role play, dirty talk etc.),”

      – You don’t even remotely understand what sexual desire is about. You can’t conjure it by talking. It either is or isn’t. People who castrate their existences sexually in this sad, pathetic way you suggest have been brainwashed by the puritanical culture to the point where they actually believe that sexual desire is something they can make happen and make serve their social and relational needs. That is a tragedy.

      Your desire to control other people’s genitals has now become clear.

      I do sincerely hope that one day very soon you fall in love. Then you will discover the very best part of human existence.

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      1. “Your desire to control other people’s genitals has now become clear.”

        First.. WHAT? not sure how you arrived at this… my presumption may be that I consider a fetus at 25 weeks to POTENTIALLY be a human being.. and thus am not for its murder… (we can replace murder with “evacuation” or w/e euphemism if you desire)… I could not care less if a woman has sex with a 1,000 or 0 guys.. I don’t want to contral anyone’s genitals… you may disagree that ending a fetus at 25 weeks is not murder.. and I can respect that. But saying i want to control other’s genitals is hysterical bullshit. COMPLETE bullshit and while I am normally polite.. fuck that in this case.

        With that out of the way… your opinion is basically that “sexual desire either is or it isn’t?” if that is your stance.. then you are basically saying people should act upon their most base animalistic instinct and that is the epitome of a relationship. For someone as cerebral as you.. I find this utterly surprising.. and a little disappointing i guess. But if that works for you more power to you.

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        1. ” then you are basically saying people should act upon their most base animalistic instinct”

          – You must find it quite intolerable that people indulge in their totally animalistic urges to eat, breathe, drink and sleep. Those bastards! Instead of being all cerebral and stuff, they go and . . . breathe. Animals.

          🙂 🙂 🙂

          “First.. WHAT? not sure how you arrived at this… my presumption may be that I consider a fetus at 25 weeks to POTENTIALLY be a human being.. and thus am not for its murder…”

          – As I already said, needing to have opinions about pregnancies when you are not even remotely capable of being pregnant, to me, is equal to the desire to control other people’s genitals. But I’d rather not clutter the thread with abortion discussions. Let’s substitute my statement with “Now you need to have opinions about other people’s fetuses becomes clear.”

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      2. ” then you are basically saying people should act upon their most base animalistic instinct”

        – You must find it quite intolerable that people indulge in their totally animalistic urges to eat, breathe, drink and sleep. Those bastards! Instead of being all cerebral and stuff, they go and . . . breathe. Animals.
        🙂 🙂 🙂

        Touche.. (i think that is the proper use of that term.. perhaps not). A good and funny point you made and at first I thought I may have misspoke.. but you edited my quote!

        My full quote was:
        “then you are basically saying people should act upon their most base animalistic instinct and that is the epitome of a relationship.”

        Acting on your animal instincts is fine, and even great often. However, base animal instincts should not be the EPITOME of a relationship is my contention.

        When I get mad at people it sure sometimes feels like I should beat the crap out of them (and while I have never fought, my physical size and characteristics is such that I would be able to in 90% + of cases). Take the legal angle out of it.. should I follow my animal instinct to hurt them? While that is slightly different than sex being most important in a relationship.. my point is that it is the human’s brain and its ability to perform “higher – level thinking” which makes us more than say monkeys or snakes…

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        1. “However, base animal instincts should not be the EPITOME of a relationship is my contention.”
          “While that is slightly different than sex being most important in a relationship.. my point is that it is the human’s brain and its ability to perform “higher – level thinking” which makes us more than say monkeys or snakes…”

          – You obviously perceive sexuality as bad and dirty. Your language betrays a deep-seated fear of your own sexuality. The analogy between allowing yourself to be sexual and allowing yourself to be violent is very curious in this respect.

          As for being more than monkeys and snakes, it’s precisely our human sexuality which has been divorced from procreation that makes us so different from them. Only human beings are capable of finding in sex a source of energy and a road to personal, intellectual, and spiritual growth. Animals are not capable of that.

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      3. We are somewhat talking past each other I think.

        I am not implying that sex is bad AT ALL. I am implying that sex should not be the main basis for a relationship. In fact I am saying “casual sex” is fine/good/great.

        Just wanted to clarify that.

        I was talking to my friend on the phone about this debate we were having and her first comment was that she agreed with me 🙂 haha.. not really important i know.. but her comment was interesting.

        “Any women would rather find a man cheating on her just for casual fling/sex than in having an emotional affair with another lady”. Now, my friend is not a feminist, but definitely not religious or puritanical either. Maybe she feels the same way I do because we are friends.. but I think her comment is what I typically hear from most women my age and older. Do you disagree with the statement I take it?

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        1. ” I am implying that sex should not be the main basis for a relationship”

          – People in this thread have shared several powerful examples of the suffering such relationships caused them. Have you tried being in a marriage where sex is not the basis? How did it go?

          ““Any women would rather find a man cheating on her just for casual fling/sex than in having an emotional affair with another lady”.”

          – I guess I’m a man, then. 🙂

          “Do you disagree with the statement I take it?”

          – I have no idea what “an emotional affair” even is. It sounds like something straight from Dr. Phil’s show. 🙂

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      4. Generally, I gave up talking to Americans (and, I’m sure Canadians are the same) because I discovered that almost everybody in US culture is totally invested in the idea that men are physical/sexual/practical and women are emotional/non-practical entities. I had no idea how pervasive this ideology was for the longest time, but now it is self-evident. The origins of these suppositions are in Christianity, where it is taught that women can’t quite be trusted with apples, for they will be deceived by snakes, but men can be relied upon due to their rationality.

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        1. ” I discovered that almost everybody in US culture is totally invested in the idea that men are physical/sexual/practical and women are emotional/non-practical entities. I had no idea how pervasive this ideology was for the longest time, but now it is self-evident”

          – I know!! How ridiculous is this?? I even heard this idea advanced by FEMINIST professors in university courses! ‘Reason is male, intuition is female, logic is male, emotions are female”, that kind of stupid crap. There are people who interiorize this idiocy to huge extents.

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          1. I mean, I can understand it up to a point. In fact I make this exploration in my memoir — how was it that I came to be so divorced from so much of practical reality? Well, we can investigate that as an imposition of social norms. But don’t forget, whilst you are investigating it, to investigate the suffering this produces. And the confusion. And the immature status this imposes on both men and women alike, since where nobody is a complete person because everybody accepts a different division of labor, nobody can make rational, adult judgments about anything at all — and this includes men, too.

            If “rationality is male” according to a division of labor, then men are deprived of their full humanity and are not so much rational as wooden, devitalized, robotic and insane.

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            1. ” And the confusion. And the immature status this imposes on both men and women alike, since where nobody is a complete person because everybody accepts a different division of labor, nobody can make rational, adult judgments about anything at all — and this includes men, too.”

              – Absolutely true! But this does make relationships between such self-mutilated personalities more binding. Neither can survive without the other. Of course, they relationship is deeply miserable but they confuse the functions they need the other to carry out for them as a “profound emotional connection.”

              I was just having a conversation with a woman who had no idea what I meant when I said that you can only be happy in a relationship if you know how to be happy on your own.

              “But if I’m happy on my own, why do I even need a man?” she said.

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              1. My parents have that kind of “division of labor” relationship and it really does stifle the intellect. How can you even test reality to work out what is there if you require another person to be a function for you, in order for you to be whole? You can’t do any trial and error because the other part of you — either your emotional function or your rational function — is somewhere else.

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              2. “My parents have that kind of “division of labor” relationship and it really does stifle the intellect.”

                – Mine too! To the point where my father couldn’t even cry when his own father died. My mother and I had to do the grieving for him! They start recruiting their children to serve as missing functions, that’s the really sad part.

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              3. That’s the whole experience I had with my father, too. I had it worse because I was the eldest, but also because my father had a lot of mistreatment as a child as well as abandonment issues. So, basically I was allocated to:

                1. express the emotions he had because of his anger at the world for being abandoned early on.

                2. express his sadness and anger for the demise of Rhodesia after the government capitulated to outside demands.

                3. act as the whipping girl on a practical/emotional level for everything that went wrong in his later stage of life, when he began to succumb to his lifelong traumas.

                4. Accept the blame, publicly, too, for women are “the weak ones”, not men.

                5. Act as “the good mother” (or else) and teach my father how to operate within the culture we had entered as migrants.

                6. Accept the guilt of “the bad mother”.

                ** The problems I have had with my father have been endless and only ended with his stroke, which destroyed much of the creative/intuitive/emotional side of his brain. I’m sure he is also thankful for its removal of his trauma, even though it has left his with a severe disability. He can now speak logically, rather than manipulatively, about what went wrong in his life. For the first time, we have a good relationship, where he isn’t trying to sabotage me all the way.

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      5. It seems to me that Matt is talking about marriage: for a marriage to work you need enough in common to get along, some shared interests and perspectives at least, the emotional bond, commitment long term, etc., in addition to sexual attraction.

        Where we disagree is that in Matt’s formulation the sexual part is sort of the afterthought, whereas I’d say that in any romantic relationship it’s the first and the most fundamental thing.

        I also agree with Clarissa, what in the world is an emotional affair … and with musteryou, a lot of this seems based on the supposition that men are practical and women emotional … there also seems to be this underlying idea that sex is this fairly low, mechanical thing that can be done well enough with just anyone.

        These views are really common in US, I know, and they seem like common sense
        to many, but I do not think they are actually self evident and I think trying to make the world fit them actually causes a lot of difficulty.

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      6. I have never been able to tell the difference between an “emotional affair” (as they are commonly described in advice columns) and a close friendship. If people are asking that their spouses not maintain intimate friendships with people of the opposite sex … well, that’s not healthy, realistic, or fair to your partner.

        You cannot be everything to anyone, as far as emotional and psychological needs are concerned. We’re social animals, not solely pair-bonded ones, and usually when a person does find hirself in a relationship where they are the other person’s ONLY intimate human contact, it’s not very pleasant.

        Also, @Matt re. “animalistic instincts”, dude, we ARE animals. Get used to it.

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        1. “I have never been able to tell the difference between an “emotional affair” (as they are commonly described in advice columns) and a close friendship. If people are asking that their spouses not maintain intimate friendships with people of the opposite sex … well, that’s not healthy, realistic, or fair to your partner.”

          – Exactly! I also have no idea what is supposed to be the difference between this “emotional affair” and a friendship. If a heterosexual woman has a very close friendship with another woman, is that “an emotional affair”? Or does it only become one if the friend is a man? This is too weird.

          “You cannot be everything to anyone, as far as emotional and psychological needs are concerned”

          – Nor should anybody really want to.

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  5. – “Ultimately, you can easily enjoy casual sex with lots of people.”

    This is another mainstream view I disagree with. People seem to think that if someone looks good and you like them well enough, you can be interested in “casual sex” with them. I say no, there has to be ATTRACTION which is another thing.

    I also do not think sex is ever casual. It may not be marital, or long term, or part of a committed relationship or whatever, but that does not make it “casual.” If it is worth having, it is hardly that offhand.

    I would call what a lot of people call “casual sex” something more like “using someone else to get off.”

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    1. I guess we are approaching a bill Clinton “it depends what the definition of is, is” moment 🙂

      Casual sex is when two people meet and have sexual relations for the pure physical enjoyment of it with no long-term emotional committment. I have had that multiple times, and while great, it is less full-filling then deep emotional bonds or times when I have been their for friends or gfs.. or when they have been there for me.

      Just different strokes I guess.

      Also, I do agree there needs to be an “attraction”. But hell… I am physically attracted to WAY more people than I am emotionally attracted too. I know at least 4 or 5 women today who i was physically attracted to… so in my experience yes that is easy to find.

      the emotional/committment part.. WAY harder. At least in my experience.

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      1. I’d say that when most say “attraction” they really just mean non neutrality or non revulsion, or they mean someone decent enough to be able to function with.

        Commitment and being there, I just don’t know — this, again, is something I have had with people I’ve had ho-hum or awful sex with, and I also have it with various friends and relatives that I’m not involved with sexually.

        I think it’s part of the Western / religious view of sex — you have to have love and permanence for it to be OK, so you have to have those to even be able to relax…

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        1. “Commitment and being there, I just don’t know — this, again, is something I have had with people I’ve had ho-hum or awful sex with, and I also have it with various friends and relatives that I’m not involved with sexually.

          I think it’s part of the Western / religious view of sex — you have to have love and permanence for it to be OK, so you have to have those to even be able to relax…”

          – Exactly. I feel like all I do in this thread is copy your responses and write “exactly” under them. 🙂

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      2. Much later, re Matt’s comment in this subthread: here is classic mind-body split. Physical and emotional attraction as independent of each other. Sex as something you either have as a “purely physical” thing or as part of a “commitment.” (Your marriage, and your friendly local strip club? Ay.)

        Meanwhile, more important is getting someone to “be there for you”? Do you mean to take care of you? As in having a reliable friend, a faithful and helpful relative?

        Also – upthread about sex – if desire is absent, you conjure it into being by … using sex toys and things? On someone who doesn’t want to have sex with you at all? A serious question to Matt would be: are you sure you have had satisfying casual sex, or women who ran away after one try? I don’t mean this in a mean way, I mean it sounds as though you could use some sex education…!

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    2. “I would call what a lot of people call “casual sex” something more like “using someone else to get off.””

      – That’s exactly what it is. I don’t say that judgmentally or anything. Just stating a fact.

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      1. Do you mean it happens also because not really feeling attraction?

        I always thought I was the weird one for feeling physical attraction for extremely few people, but may be more people are like that than I thought.

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        1. “I always thought I was the weird one for feeling physical attraction for extremely few people, but may be more people are like that than I thought.”

          – It isn’t just attraction. People can have all the attraction in the world, yet the sex still might easily not work. It’s sexual compatibility.

          The situation where attraction is there but compatibility isn’t is very frustrating.

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    3. – “Ultimately, you can easily enjoy casual sex with lots of people.”
      //This is another mainstream view I disagree with.

      I seem be able to like mentally much more people than number of ones who can attract me physically. Glad to see I am not alone. Always thought it was because of mental hang ups of “sex is shameful” & “don’t want a relationship now” variety.

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      1. No, I think you’re just not superficial. Also, I think a lot of people think physically attractive means aesthetically appealing. More people are pretty than I am attracted to, however.

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      2. //No, I think you’re just not superficial.

        Thanks for the compliment, but I don’t get it. May be you didn’t understand me? I meant exactly that I am superficial by attraction not being connected to character but first to looks only (if a person is bad, he would stop attracting me with time). I talked of attraction not appearing, if wasn’t from 1st seconds. What is not superficial there?

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        1. ” I meant exactly that I am superficial by attraction not being connected to character but first to looks only (if a person is bad, he would stop attracting me with time). I talked of attraction not appearing, if wasn’t from 1st seconds”

          – I think it is completely healthy. If you know immediately that attraction is / isn’t there, this means your sexuality is free and unencumbered with ideological hangups. I think it’s a great thing.

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  6. From the article linked: “for me it serves as one more example of “the purity myth” in action–a term coined by Jessica Valenti in her book of that title which chronicles all the different ways our society is obsessed with virginity and “links a woman’s worth to her sexuality rather than to values like honesty, kindness, and altruism.” ”

    This is a kind of nuttiness in itself. Honesty, kindness and altruism do not define my worth, or any woman’s worth. And aren’t these values those of an asexual womanhood?

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    1. I guess we have different definition of what we “value” then. Kindness, honesty, altruism… shouldn’t define the worth of women.. they should go a long way to defining the values of EVERYONE…

      Surely sex shouldn’t be what defines the worth of a woman right? If not sex, the “character” and “soul” and “actions” of another person should define someone’s worth… Now we can debate what “character” and “soul” and “actions” are good vs. bad in each person’s opinions.. but they are the very essence of people

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    2. “This is a kind of nuttiness in itself. Honesty, kindness and altruism do not define my worth, or any woman’s worth. And aren’t these values those of an asexual womanhood?”

      – Exactly. Crrrrrazzy!

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    3. Ok.. color me confused. I am advocating that a person’s character is what determines their worth primarily.. I thought that would be pretty much non-controversial.

      Musteryou and Clarissa… what are you saying determines someone’s worth? Not a rhetorical question… I am curious.

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      1. “Musteryou and Clarissa… what are you saying determines someone’s worth”

        – I don’t understand the question. Who’s the buyer here? 🙂

        For instance, your worth to me is that you are a fun discussion partner and a good blog commenter. But your worth to other people and to yourself might be something entirely different. There is no single worth to anybody unless we specify the perspective from which the evaluation is made.

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  7. To Matt. Another woman here, hello.

    //a “true bond” or “emotional connection”

    I think it’s created when suitable people meet each other, fall in love & some time passes. I wouldn’t be able to have a deep connection with somebody met yesterday, no matter how good a person is. And without falling in love part, it’s pure friendship. Without feeling sexual attraction, I wouldn’t romantically stay with this man long enough to discover this “true bond”.

    Besides, without sexual attraction, how does dating proceed? You force yourself to kiss & see naked body of somebody you don’t want to? It’s disgusting, no?

    //If you had every other element of a relationship, then you should be able to openly talk about the sex stuff with your partner. If you both agree that is the only area lacking.. why not try to spice up your on love life (role play, dirty talk etc.), consider group sex, or even go as far as to let your partner get release from a prostitute or pick someone up at a bar. Did you consider/try this in your marriage?

    Wide culture is all for women agreeing to the type of relationship you advise here (where only sex is lacking) & all against not monogamy. Especially, for women.
    In Israel with religious laws of divorce, it’s very pronounced. See wiki, if interested. Some couples did what you say & then a husband used VERY well his wife’s “cheating” against her in divorce proceedings (economically, children, etc). A woman in Israel would do better to divorce a failing marriage, then to have such last minute saving attempts, which most often don’t work, and give such super-strong ammunion to divorcing husband.
    In US may be laws are different, but I am sure culturally it isn’t more accepted.

    You don’t understand what people mean here. If I don’t want some man, don’t enjoy kissing him, etc., how would “role play, dirty talk etc” help? They can only enrich a sex life of some couples, who want it & already want one another, not create one from the void.

    With me (and many other women) there is a very strong element of Physical Disgust, that you ignore in this analysis. To your peril, if you marry a woman like that, who’ll fight her “low” body. Would it do “it” to you, how can one preserve this “true bond”, if you (not “you” personally, a general “you”) know your partner wants to puke, when you force yourself on her with role playing/etc for 1001 time? If you know, she really, but really wants *that* man, but not you? That you’re somebody she shares her life with because it’s comfortable: you’re a good provider, a good co-parent, a good room mate, a good friend.

    Btw, how can one not worry in this situation that your spouse will find somebody they want to have sex with & who also is a good person & leave? Why should s/he stay with you, instead of leaving with a new love? You can stay BFF & co-parent, if s/he lives/leaves with the lover anyway, so what’s the harm?

    It’s “animal”, yes. Does it make it less real? Why shouldn’t I respect my body as much as I respect my mind? Btw, the last sentence is from religious pov. From my atheistic pov both “body” & “mind” are manifistations of how my brain “sees” and “feels” the world. So, I should in your logic respect one feeling “he is a good friend” over another feeling “I don’t want to touch him with 10 feet pole & will always dream of other people”.

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    1. Like I’ve said here before, I met Mike online. You have a meeting of minds, but not really that so much as an understanding that you both share a sense of adventure. When I spoke to him way before meeting him face to face, I said, “I need a man.” The implications were obviously sexual. So we talked quite a few times on the phone — at least once a week, when I suppose he was trying to establish what my lifestyle was like. He then put in for a voluntary redundancy, which came in a few months later. He wired me about a thousand dollars and I booked a motel for several weeks. That day I picked him up at the airport was fraught. We’d never met each other in person, just seen photographs. I couldn’t figure out whether to meet him at the International or Domestic airport, because he had flown internationally and then had to transfer from Melbourne to Perth. It seemed maybe this would make it the domestic airport, but I retained an element of doubt, not being familiar with airports back then. I also lost my blue coin token that would enable us to pay the airport parking fee.

      Mike was the last person off the plane. This must have been a strategy so we would meet each other and not confuse each other with somebody else. Or, I would be the last person still waiting there, so it would be simple.

      We met. He looked tired. We went to get his luggage and he had that kind of leathery smell of endurance from travelling more than 20 hours. He hugged me very tightly, like I was a life raft, as we walked to find his stuff. Then I identified my car in the parking lot and showed him the beer he had asked me to have available for him on his arrival. It wasn’t the right sort of beer and it had become a bit warm in the car, surrounded by 40 degree Celsius heat. There were cicadas vibrating in the grass nearby.

      I drove to the motel, and by this time I was totally exhausted. This had been quite an effort to organize. Nobody knew I was meeting Mike today, except me. I hadn’t mentioned much about him.

      So I rested on the bed, whilst Mike prepared to have a shower. He threw off his stinky clothes and pronounced himself “uncircumcised as you can see.”

      So began our sexual relationship and we have been together since December 2000.

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          1. “Yes, but too simple, huh?”

            – This idea that one needs to “work hard on a relationship” and make some huge efforts to “make it work” is very Puritanical in its nature. People can’t simply enjoy anything, they have to accompany it with suffering. Since you are not a Puritan, it worked simply and beautifully for you.

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            1. Certainly… a large part of it was, as you said, having my priorities in the right order. You have to be able to feel your sex drive, because your personality is built on that. It’s not the other way around. You can dig deeper into your personality and suddenly pull up a sex drive, like a rabbit out of a hat.

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  8. //“Any women would rather find a man cheating on her just for casual fling/sex than in having an emotional affair with another lady”. Now, my friend is not a feminist, but definitely not religious or puritanical either. Maybe she feels the same way I do because we are friends.. but I think her comment is what I typically hear from most women my age and older. Do you disagree with the statement I take it?

    Has your friend experienced both OR is it a common wisdom on the bar with “men are from Mars & women – from Venus”? I haven’t experienced either yet, so can only take a guess. If by “emotional affair” you mean no sex, I would take it with both hands over casual fling. For 2 reasons:

    1 – Emotions don’t transmit diseases. Note: HPV & other stuff can be passed with a condon too. HPV is a cause of cervical cancer. After getting it or even “only” genital warts from a cheating husband (too transfers despite a condom & can’t be eliminated, only managed), I suspect, most women would start wishing he had an emotional affair instead. Btw, those viruses are quite widespread, so it isn’t a 1 in a million scenario. Even “only” herpes is unpleasant and forever. And no, not all people already have it & there are different herpes strains, which one’s body can react to differently (severity and frequency of outbreaks).

    I am not ready to take those risks, which is 1 of main reasons I find not monogammy unappealing.

    Also some women feel physical disgust: “What, he put his organ yesterday in her and today in me?” without consciously thinking of diseases.

    2 – Emotional “affair” without sex would let me continue to respect and probably trust my partner in a way I wouldn’t be able to after his fling. I understand that people have emotions and that sometimes, if there are problems or people “just” not think of their relationship, but go into “everything is more important than our bond” mode (children’s after school activities, very clean house, volunteering, etc.), then one can start investing energy in somebody else, at first, not consciously even.

    However, when it’s only physical, then in addition to betrayal of trust in emotional, he says “I don’t care I put you on risk of 101 diseases. I don’t care you would find me in you physically disgusting afterwards. I don’t care I endanger our relationship for insignificant to me fling with a woman I don’t care about”. Means he cares about your “bond” even less. Logically.

    Somebody can admit emotional ties, which should’ve been with a spouse: “Honey, we XYZ and I paid attention I started being mentally close with Y. Let’s do together Z”. I would’ve accepted it much better than “I had sex with X, but it was totally insignificant. Trust me”.

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    1. “Has your friend experienced both OR is it a common wisdom on the bar with “men are from Mars & women – from Venus””

      – Yeah, that’s exactly how it sounded to me, too.

      ” Emotions don’t transmit diseases. Note: HPV & other stuff can be passed with a condon too. HPV is a cause of cervical cancer. After getting it or even “only” genital warts from a cheating husband (too transfers despite a condom & can’t be eliminated, only managed), I suspect, most women would start wishing he had an emotional affair instead.”

      – I agree 100%. Anybody who exposes me even to a very remote risk of infection will die a slow and painful death by my hand.

      “I am not ready to take those risks, which is 1 of main reasons I find not monogammy unappealing.”

      – Exactly.

      “I would’ve accepted it much better than “I had sex with X, but it was totally insignificant. Trust me””

      – Yes, it’s like this totally inane excuse of “I slept with X but it didn’t mean anything.” It’s the stupidest excuse in the world. As if cheating changed its offensiveness and capacity to hurt one based on a range of meanings. Like there are good meanings and bad meanings to sex. Ridiculous.

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  9. Btw, I once stumbled upon this site “Why Your Wife Won’t Have Sex With You”:
    http://juliagrey.wordpress.com/introduction/
    It’s written by a woman, who “used to be a “frigid” wife”, but then rekindled the passion. Notice the “RE” in “rekindled”.

    That’s not about sex for a change, but a beautiful quote by C. S. Lewis I accidently found (from “The Great Divorce” which I haven’t read):

    “Если остался хоть кусочек человека, мы его оживим. Если осталась хоть одна искра под всем этим пеплом, мы раздуем ее в светлое пламя. Но если остался один пепел, дуть бесполезно, он только запорошит нам глаза”

    “If there’s one wee spark under all those ashes, we’ll blow it till the whole pile is red and clear. But if there’s nothing but ashes we’ll not go on blowing them in our own eyes forever. They must be swept up.”

    I see Russian translation is a bit different (and I like it more). It says: “But if there’s nothing but ashes, to blow is in vain, it will only blow into our eyes”.

    I understand I take it out of context, but it seems to fit many man to man situations. Here f.e. it can be about zero possibility of creating passion out of nothing.

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  10. Hi Clarissa and others,
    Aren’t you just massacring a poor little strawman here? 🙂 How large percentage of relationships actually start with physical disgust anyway? Or even with just lack of attraction?
    On the other hand, you are saying that “Only human beings are capable of finding in sex a source of energy and a road to personal, intellectual, and spiritual growth.” And I agree with that. But if you allow for sex to be not purely animalistic (value-free definition 🙂 ), but related to personal growth and spirituality – how can you be sure that psychological factors (and not just “chemistry”) do not play a role in whom we perceive sexually attractive? And if they can play a role – there is a small step left to allowing sexual attraction to grow inside non-sexual close relationship, like friendship…

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    1. V – strawman, I think not. In US anyway the strong propaganda is that relationships should be friendships. You should be friends, and if your friend is a socially and financially appropriate marriage partner, you should work on creating sexual attraction, hope it appears, etc., or more commonly, *MISTAKE* affection for sexual attraction.

      I wouldn’t say that sexual attraction that is sexual, not based in common intellectual and recreational interests, common class background, socially acceptable appearances, etc. the way so many people choose partners, is not related to personal growth and spirituality. In fact, this is something I’ve wanted to point out in this thread and hadn’t gotten to. I think many make this mistake — they think that if it is sexual it could not be spiritual, but if it is intellectual then it can be.

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      1. ” You should be friends, and if your friend is a socially and financially appropriate marriage partner, you should work on creating sexual attraction, hope it appears, etc”

        – That’s exactly the myth that I keep denouncing. I wasted 6 years of my young life in the hopes that it would finally start working. How could it not work, I wondered. We were so perfectly suited in everything, loved each other, had a fantastic time together. How could it not work?

        Things started to get clearer when after leaving my ex I met a guy with whom we were signally unsuited, had nothing in common, did not love or even know each other, but the sex was phenomenal. This is when I realized that I’d been lied to most egregiously.

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      2. //I wouldn’t say that sexual attraction that is sexual, not based in common intellectual and recreational interests, common class background, socially acceptable appearances, etc. the way so many people choose partners, is not related to personal growth and spirituality. In fact, this is something I’ve wanted to point out in this thread and hadn’t gotten to. I think many make this mistake — they think that if it is sexual it could not be spiritual, but if it is intellectual then it can be.

        Could you explain it more? How is pure physical attraction after 5 seconds of seeing each other related to “personal growth and spirituality”? As an atheist, I also don’t get the word “spirituality”, so, I guess, it refers to others only?

        And, have I understood you correctly and “the way so many people choose partners” refers to “common class…”, while you said that attraction even without “common…” things is related to spirituality?

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    2. “How large percentage of relationships actually start with physical disgust anyway? Or even with just lack of attraction?”

      – It isn’t about either disgust or lack of attraction. There were neither between me and my ex. It was just that sex between us could never work the way it should work. It was a chore rather than anything else. We had no compatibility. The attraction was there and it was quite strong at first. The compatibility wasn’t.

      “And if they can play a role – there is a small step left to allowing sexual attraction to grow inside non-sexual close relationship, like friendship…”

      – That isn’t a friendship, though. It’s a relationship where people are afraid to confess from the start that they are attracted. I adore my male BFF. He is a fantastic guy. But neither he nor I can get anything to grow in that sense because it is absent to the same degree as it is absent with my female BFFs.

      ” how can you be sure that psychological factors (and not just “chemistry”) do not play a role in whom we perceive sexually attractive”

      – When I met N., there were electric currents going through both of us from the first moment. We didn’t know each other, so I don’t see which psychological factors could have kicked in that early. I think the psychological factors make sure that we are still as attracted as ever and more five years later. This part is definitely hugely psychological.

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      1. //We had no compatibility. The attraction was there and it was quite strong at first. The compatibility wasn’t.

        I’ve never been yet in a relationship, so when you talk of attraction-high, compatibility-low –> end result: misery, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Always mistifies me. So few men create attraction in me, even fewer of those would be interested in me back. Sometimes I think it’s practically impossible because of being too narrow in my preferences, which I don’t think I can change. And now this mysterious C. comes into the game too!

        I hope if I do manage to find somebody, it won’t happen. If you talk what you like before sex and it seems compatible, and then during 1st months of sexual relationship all seems OK, then it’s OK, right? Do people feel lack of compatibility immediately, even virgins?

        As far as I understand, you describe a situation, when there is attraction, but somehow, even if you both want most usual “vanilla” sex, things don’t work out physically. So, would even a virgin feel it? The question is how fast and how a woman can see it’s uncompatibility, and not her “sex is shameful” issues and fears of beginning penetrative sex.

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        1. “If you talk what you like before sex and it seems compatible, and then during 1st months of sexual relationship all seems OK, then it’s OK, right? Do people feel lack of compatibility immediately, even virgins?”

          – Oh yeah, for us it sucked immediately. The way you know you aren’t compatible is that it feels wrong. You feel like, “What am I doing here naked with this person? This feels weird. Why aren’t we just having coffee and talking about books?”

          “As far as I understand, you describe a situation, when there is attraction, but somehow, even if you both want most usual “vanilla” sex, things don’t work out physically. ”

          – Exactly. To give a slightly off-kilter analogy, have you been in a situation where people keep telling you about this person that you have so much in common with that you’d totally become friends? “Oh, you so got to meet A,” they say. “You guys will become best friends in a moment.” And then you do meet A.and discover that you do have a lot in common but spending time together is still phenomenally boring. Every ingredient seems to be there: shared hobbies, interests, favorite writers, etc. but it still isn’t clicking.

          “So, would even a virgin feel it? The question is how fast and how a woman can see it’s uncompatibility, and not her “sex is shameful” issues and fears of beginning penetrative sex.”

          – I knew it was bad and hopeless from the start but I didn’t want to know because I really valued the relationship. So I invented the most bizarre excuses ever to explain why everything was so bad.

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      2. Clarissa, out of curiosity, did you and your ex-husband try to work on your sex life? If so, did you try to increase the frequency or improve the quality of it? Was he dissatisfied as well or was he perfectly happy with things as they were? Or did he feel exhausted and complain that you were having too much sex?

        It is so difficult to accept that there are things that cannot be fixed and/or sufficiently improved! My ex and I certainly tried. There was no shortage of love, care, or an emotional connection. Of course, I can’t really know what the issue was, but I eventually just put his low libido down to low testosterone. There were other indicators as well– he was extremely boyish, only had to shave once a week, etc. If it was somewhat personal– perhaps, despite his assurances, he wasn’t really all that attracted to me, etc.– that’s fine, it doesn’t devastate my ego. It still indicates a mismatch.

        In response to some of the things written by Matt above, I’d say that the extremely close bond that I shared with this person if anything made the infrequent sex and utter lack of passion and desire that much more painful and disappointing. It did NOT somehow make up for it or make it easy to ignore/forget about.

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        1. “Clarissa, out of curiosity, did you and your ex-husband try to work on your sex life? If so, did you try to increase the frequency or improve the quality of it?”

          – Yes, we tried everything that came to mind. But it was just SO not there. We were both so not into it like I can;t begin to tell you. We were both happy people when there was a legitimate excuse not to do it. 🙂

          ” Was he dissatisfied as well or was he perfectly happy with things as they were?”

          – The poor guy ended up with health issue trying to force himself to perform with a woman he didn’t want. We felt more like brother and sister than anything else.

          “I’d say that the extremely close bond that I shared with this person if anything made the infrequent sex and utter lack of passion and desire that much more painful and disappointing.”

          – Exactly!!! My ex and I could have been really good close friends. But as a result of all this, we are not in touch at all. We have lost the friendship because we tried to massage it into a shape it was never supposed to take.

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      3. —When I met N., there were electric currents going through both of us from the first moment. We didn’t know each other, so I don’t see which psychological factors could have kicked in that early.

        The last sentence may be understood by people who do not know you in a wrong way… It’s not like you were two complete strangers in a bar… you had a chance to form some idea of each-other’s psychological makeup before you met. And for the purpose of this discussion this is quite relevant.
        But even if it were the bar – people subconsciously read some info about other’s psychological makeup very quickly… Maybe from the manner to carry oneself, to talk, etc…

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        1. But we were two complete strangers. He read the stuff I wrote but I had no idea who he was. There wasn’t any correspondence or anything. The moment I saw him all I wanted to do was x -rated stuff. 🙂 Nobody believes me when I say it, not even he, but it’s the truth.

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      4. Well, I still do not buy it. Because you are a literary critic. 🙂 And we have empirical evidence here at this very blog that you can diagnose somebody’s propensity to control random uteri based on just two sentences. 🙂 And I know for sure there were more than two sentences by N. at your disposal before you met.
        Please do not get me wrong. I do not have any doubt in your attraction towards N. I am just saying that your experience is actually not the best argument in support of the point you are trying to make – that psychological factors cannot possibly cause or influence sexual attraction. In scientific terms – it is just not a “clean experiment” 🙂

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        1. “nd I know for sure there were more than two sentences by N. at your disposal before you met.”

          – Actually, no, there weren’t. All I knew about him was that he wrote to me to say, “Hey, I really liked what you have to say about professional realization on forum X. I’m in New Haven, would you like to meet because I have some questions?” And I wrote back to say, “OK, why not?” After which he said he would be at Starbucks at 7:30 pm and would be wearing a suit and a tie. These were the only texts by him I’d seen before meeting him. The last thing I needed at that point is an affair with a Russian guy from Indiana. I don’t know why I’m being disbelieved about this.

          I’m preserving that correspondence, so I have proof, too! 🙂

          “the point you are trying to make – that psychological factors cannot possibly cause or influence sexual attraction”

          – I never tried to make such a point. What I’m saying is that people do themselves a disservice when they try to make their sexuality serve their relational and social needs.

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      5. I meant the N>2 sentences which you potentially could read you-know-where. But if you truly did not notice N. at all before he contacted you – that is interesting and amazing in itself. No disbelief implied, truly amazing.

        —What I’m saying is that people do themselves a disservice when they try to make their sexuality serve their relational and social needs.

        In this formulation, I fully agree with it. I just thought that people tend to choose sexual partners (for long-term relationships) based on both sexual attraction and psychological factors. And compatible value systems… And we are getting dangerously close to social factors. 🙂 It just did not occur to me that someone would completely ignore the sexual side of it all, and would not just be friends if the sexual attraction is missing…
        In my view, most relationships start with sufficient degree of sexual attraction. (On my books, if it feels weird to be in bed together, it is insufficient degree.) It may go down because of psychological factors. Ascribing all attraction (or its lack) to just chemistry places it outside of one’s responsibility… But solving relevant psychological issues may bring it back. Therefore, “working on one’s sex life” seems a meaningful activity to me, under these conditions.

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        1. “I meant the N>2 sentences which you potentially could read you-know-where. But if you truly did not notice N. at all before he contacted you”

          – That’s exactly how it was. Why is it all that amazing? 🙂 It isn’t like he was a prolific contributor, like SOME people. 🙂

          ” It just did not occur to me that someone would completely ignore the sexual side of it all, and would not just be friends if the sexual attraction is missing”

          – The problem is that people hear all the time that sexual attraction is WHEN you have a great time together, laugh together, share hobbies. So they are sure the attraction is there. Yes, it sounds very idiotic but what lies wouldn’t we tell ourselves if it suits our purpose?

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      6. —The problem is that people hear all the time that sexual attraction is WHEN you have a great time together, laugh together, share hobbies.

        Interestingly enough, I’ve never heard something like that. I may have heard that sexual attraction is not important enough to serve as a basis of a relationship, but I never heard or saw it so completely mistaken for laughing together or sharing hobbies.

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  11. I have no idea. He was, though, and only afterward, once I’d left and tried to be very honest with myself about what potential signs I’d ignored did I think of that. He was 27 and my mom always told me she thought he looked 14. Very small, no muscles, not a hair on his chest, very boyish face. Since I’m no doctor and haven’t the slightest idea what his testosterone levels are (nor is it any of my business, or my concern anymore), it’s just speculation. Maybe others have similar or contradicting experiences.

    Btw, he was not effeminate at all. Just looked like a boy.

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    1. In standard sex advice (Internet advice columns) one often hears the advice to go to a doctor. Sometimes Pills kill a woman’s libido, f.e. Sometimes a man has problems. In fact, “go to a doctor” is often the 1st advice to rule out physiological causes.

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      1. ” In fact, “go to a doctor” is often the 1st advice to rule out physiological causes”

        – Yes, take some happy pills and you’ll stop caring altogether. 🙂 Physiological impotence and frigidity are extremely rare.

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      2. This side-effect of contraceptive Pills on many women isn’t rare. They are already taking those Pills, thus the unwanted effect, so in this situation “take some happy pills” doesn’t work as a joke.
        Sometimes switching to a different Pill helps.

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        1. “This side-effect of contraceptive Pills on many women isn’t rare.”

          – I don’t disagree at all. I know for a fact that the Pill has a cumulative effect of lowering libido. For which I’m extremely thankful because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to function. 🙂 🙂

          I’m planning to go off my pills next month because they are not helping my BP and I’m a little scared of what will happen.

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      3. Haha, Clarissa! I liked what you said about the pills. I have a high libido as well. A voracious sexuality, as I think you once put it. And I will NOT apologize for it!

        Regardless, whether mine is high or not, his libido was not typical. Who am I to say what’s “normal”? He liked sex and was a good lover, he just insisted that he didn’t feel the need for it more than X number of times a week (if I say the number, someone will balk and criticize me for complaining about what’s perfectly normal/maybe even high to some/what I should be grateful for!). When that need arose, he attended to it. The rest of the time it was a million miles away from his mind, and there was NO way to make him interested. Thus, zero spontaneity, zero fun, zero passion. I should have known that we were doomed during the argument when he pulled out a small calendar from his wallet where he’d been secretly keeping track of when we had sex. !!! No joke. This was thrown in my face as evidence that, contrary to my complaining, it wasn’t true that we never had sex. I mean, LOOK at all the times I’ve slept with you, look how selfless and loving I am… (Those weren’t his words, but it was the message. Even with what was a very inadequate sex life for me, I was wearing the man out.) It’s sad because we really loved (and still love) each other. We were just crazy incompatible. Lesson learned!

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        1. “if I say the number, someone will balk and criticize me for complaining about what’s perfectly normal/maybe even high to some/what I should be grateful for”

          – If you are unhappy, then you have the right to do something about it. Anybody who advises a person to put up with a situation they find intolerable, is just wrong.

          “I should have known that we were doomed during the argument when he pulled out a small calendar from his wallet where he’d been secretly keeping track of when we had sex. !!! No joke. This was thrown in my face as evidence that, contrary to my complaining, it wasn’t true that we never had sex”

          – I have a confession to make. I had such a calendar in my 1st marriage. I didn’t show it to people. It was just my way of proving to myself that we did have sex from time to time and our relationship was not hopeless. It just makes me sad to remember that. This was just ridiculous.

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  12. El:

    Could you explain it more? How is pure physical attraction after 5 seconds of seeing each other related to “personal growth and spirituality”? As an atheist, I also don’t get the word “spirituality”, so, I guess, it refers to others only?

    And, have I understood you correctly and “the way so many people choose partners” refers to “common class…”, while you said that attraction even without “common…” things is related to spirituality?

    Well:

    You seem to presuppose that mind and body are two things and that of these two, the body is the lesser. I don’t. So when people say things are “only” physical or “purely” physical that is hard for me to understand. It is also hard for me to understand why the physical should be insignificant.

    I am convinced that people mostly choose partners based on looks and social appropriateness in terms of common recreational and intellectual interests, similar class background and income level, etc. They see these compatibilities and decide they are “attracted” — or they are attracted to what are actually problematic psychological characteristics of their families of origin, etc. And in the meantime, they meet people that they feel “electric currents” with and for, as it were, and decide that is not important because it is “only sexual” or “just lust” and is therefore something which “will not last” and can be created with the “right” (socially appropriate) person on demand by, for instance, as Matt suggested above, watching porn together or something.

    I think that line of reasoning is insane although I will say it is harder to merge households, have long term relationship, etc., with someone who is really, really, really different from you.

    I realize these things are hard to quantify. There is something I read by a psychoanalysis about the importance of compatibility in terms of energy and rhythm, which I liked but do not know how to find now. I can’t find better words than energy and rhythm to explain why I like the person I am with now. There is something visceral that looks don’t go far enough to explain; he’s a nice person and decent but that does not go far enough to explain; he doesn’t have the common interests and background with me that most of my friends, do though, and the bond comes from elsewhere. And, we could feel it before we tested each other out to find out about general reliability and decency as persons, so it’s not a result of having first approved of the person and then decided to commit (which is the rationalized process that is recommended in magazines and so on). Yes, we could each have found out that the other one had some problematic characteristic and decided NO, attraction not withstanding.

    But the attraction/the bond itself, which I allege is not “purely physical,” was not something we “worked on” after deciding the other was a good match or something like that.

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      1. Completely? When I was reading her, I thought of the implied difference from your approach. She said:

        “he doesn’t have the common interests and background with me that most of my friends, do though, and the bond comes from elsewhere”

        But you talked of your list before of required qualities: 3rd degree, the same XYZ, etc.

        Z, thank you for the detailed answer! I suppose, when you began dating you did get common interests, etc.

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      2. I thought we were talking of relationships here, to what pay attention, the needed balance. If for somebody is super hard to find the “basis”, as you call it, how important is the closeness in “superstructure”, the degree needed for a happy life together.

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        1. My point is that it is much easier to smooth the differences in the superstructure when a profound passion is there. Otherwise, the small details might eat at the relationship like rust.

          Psychoanalysis maintains that the sexual passion will not survive for a long time if your individual neuroses don’t fit each other perfectly. We rationalize the whole thing with lists of characteristics but it’s really all decided on a very different level.

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      3. //Psychoanalysis maintains that the sexual passion will not survive for a long time if your individual neuroses don’t fit each other perfectly.

        With each sentence it becomes more & more complicated. 🙂
        So, last question (hopefully) – how long is this “long time” usually? F.e. if it’s a year, then you can wait a year before marrying / having kids, etc. It’s an important question.

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        1. There will never be any guarantees. Things can be perfect for ten years and then all may still go to hell. That’s human life, you know. 🙂 The goal is to enjoy it at any given moment and not stress out too much about trying to control the future. I want to spend eternity with N., for example, but if the passion ends, then the relationship will end. And I will be looking for a new candidate for eternity-spending. 🙂 🙂

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  13. — In fact, “go to a doctor” is often the 1st advice to rule out physiological causes”

    People expect far too much of doctors, I must say. Wouldn’t it have to be a fairly advanced, non prejudiced type doctor? In US most MDs are Republican and you know what the Republican program on sexuality is like. I ask alternative practitioners this kind of question, but not MDs usually … am I so unusual in this?

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  14. — I suppose, when you began dating you did get common interests, etc.

    Yes but it is the “wrong” common interests, i.e. not enough of them to be just friends. We disagree or just do not coincide enough on enough things for that. We could be friendly acquaintances or something like that, if it were not for the other currents, but it would not develop into, say, a close intellectual friendship or something like that. The only thing I can think of now to compare it to is — you know, those friends one has from elementary school that one has always liked and it is because of playing well together, not because of similarities … and you have grown up to be quite different, but you still have this huge familiarity and energy exchange and rhythm and are still fast friends, because of some mysterious connection? More like that. There are a lot of ways in which he is like some foreign being, to me.

    My point being, still — looking for the same characteristics as you would in a friend, and not some other more visceral commonalities, and hoping those intangibles will follow necessarily from friendship, is barking up the wrong tree.

    I am not even saying, necessarily, that there are enough regular intellectual interests and so on for this to turn into, say, a marriage. What I am saying is that what is there is the sine qua non, and that the usual intellectual-artistic interests I share with friends, are not the basis for this a romantic type relationship and cannot be expected to be (although it is good when they are also there).

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  15. And P.S. — still thinking about this — I’ve had 2 relationships as an adult that looked exactly right from the outside, good matches if you look at common interests, ostensible values, etc. — with good looking men who found me good looking — and they were precisely the worst relationships I have ever had precisely because we had decided those factors should be enough, or should be the overriding ones. So I guess that is why I am railing on in defense of “animal instincts” … I really do think you have to take them into account, and I really don’t think they are something that work well any more often than you find a real meeting of the minds intellectually or any other way, and I think it is worth valuing that kind of compatibility and not devaluing it the way the advice columns, and so on, suggest one does.

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    1. “I think it is worth valuing that kind of compatibility and not devaluing it the way the advice columns, and so on, suggest one does.”

      – I agree completely. I just heard of an acquaintance who ended a relationship that also looked perfect on paper. The guy was planning to propose, he’s a fantastic guy, etc., but she realized that the butterflies were not there and life is too short to force oneself into that kind of marriage. It makes me happy to hear of a young woman who chose not to follow this path.

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      1. Grammar: I should have used the subjunctive, “suggest one *do.”

        As an exercise, on my next walk maybe I will try to figure out what my favorite lovers (not all of whom were most important relationships) have in common, with each other and with me. Perhaps if I can figure it out, it will show some pattern!!! So far what occurs to me is that everyone was an oldest child, and everyone grew up swimming daily in some gorgeous natural body of water. Not enough info for a profile yet. But these are the kinds of things I mean – things one wouldn’t consider important but that do sort of shape personalities and gestalts. 🙂

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        1. ” So far what occurs to me is that everyone was an oldest child, and everyone grew up swimming daily in some gorgeous natural body of water. Not enough info for a profile yet. But these are the kinds of things I mean – things one wouldn’t consider important but that do sort of shape personalities and gestalts. ”

          – That’s fascinating! OK, maybe I should do something like this, too.

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      2. I am of course still working on this question. I have never understood the distinction people make between “sex when you are in love” and “sex where you are not,” where the former is infinitely better. I would say sex where there is actual attraction versus sex where you think there should be.

        My thought was, though, perhaps for many standard men this is a real distinction … if so it would explain the importance of “caring about someone” or not … anyway the distinction would be between having it matter to you that this is a real human being, or not??? That would explain why I don’t understand this distinction, since I consider that anyone and everyone is a real human being???

        Chilling thought, do not know if it is “right” in any way.

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        1. I think you are definitely on to something. The instances when men fail to see one as a human being are numerous . Like when they keep asking for sex after being told “no “. For me that’s an instant sign that he is incapable of seeing me as a person.

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  16. Oh and plus — all of them are much less like me than my friends are. I said that upthread but I do think that friendship is often based on similarity and identification. Whereas in romance what is complementary or different, not so easily understood, characteristics one does not have oneself, attract.

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  17. Still thinking about it. Minor point: I think growing up by the water like that creates a certain kind of relationship with body and environment.

    Major point: I have now figured out this distinction people make, between casual sex and sex when you are in love, which seem to be the two kinds of sex they have.

    In love: you are doing sharing, caring, gentleness, etc., and you are promising permanent emotional and financial security to that person, or imaginging it. So sex is sweet. This is the kind of sex we are supposed to really want.

    Casual: you are free! You have no commitment to this person, so you don’t even have to know anything about them–you get to just use them! This sex is hot, and it is not the kind of sex you can have with someone you love, so it is why you have to cheat.

    I think this is all bunk and I do not get the compartmentalization at all, I think it is moralistic silliness. I think sex is always about passion and desire and is not interesting if it is not an interaction with a person, so yes you have to be interested in them and not just be using them. Ahora bien, this might also be a person you have enough else in common with to want to deal with them long term or permanently. But, even for just one day, you still have to have trust, respect, interest, etc., in that person.

    This, of course, pretty much rules out the ideas that go into prostitution: buy someone to use for sex — and reveals that many of those who engage in, yet also decry what they call “casual sex” are really just trying to find (and perhaps getting) unpaid prostitution.

    !!!

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  18. “The instances when men fail to see one as a human being are numerous. Like when they keep asking for sex after being told ‘no’. For me that’s an instant sign that he is incapable of seeing me as a person.”

    Oh, yes. That is what that is. And in general I am still trying to assimilate the fact of anot being seen as a human being. It happens a lot in non romantic contexts as well, and I tend to find the signs of it baffling, hard to read … but this is what they mean.

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    1. The signs are not that difficult to read. They have to do with degrees of psychological distance. It’s all about keeping people at the right distance. I’m afraid I have to limit my examples to Facebook, although the principles seem to work in real life as well. It took me a while to realize it, but someone who pops up on chat to say, “Hi honey, will you marry me?” has to be blocked. You do it immediately, because that person has no concept of boundaries and no capacity to develop any understanding. They’re not treating you as a human being, because they’re trying to be intimate with you and you do not know them.

      Another group of people are those who cannot really understand what you are saying to them, but want an opportunity to express their views. You can let them express their views, because they are not dangerous, only very limited.

      It’s very similar to sparring. You only allow someone close if you trust them or if you have the measures in place to deal with them. Otherwise, they’re like little specks on the horizon. You can treat them cordially, or dismiss them, but there is no need to interact on a deep level.

      Most people, by the way, are inadvertently savage, since they haven’t reflected very deeply on the issue of personal boundaries, and so don’t act with any consideration. If they haven’t actually manifested real and observable maturity, you can treat them like they’re very far away, by not reacting to their provocations.

      Sparring is all about being aware of distances and how to work them to advantage. Here is some sparring I did today. It’s very light (in contact) and we will build up over the next few weeks.

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      1. Specks on the horizon, people being savages, all of this is very true … and highly applicable to the current real life week. (And I show Latin warmth rather than Anglo-Saxon coolness, which easily gets misinterpreted in US.)

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        1. So long as you understand the terms in a neutral way, it should all work out for you. I’m mean, it’s not to caricature them in any way to say that people who expect a relationship by accosting you with a negative term or who you don’t know at all are respectively “savages” and “specks”. It’s only when you make your feelings personal that these specks and savages draw in for blood.

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  19. …also. To show the degraded state of the current world. I think this is the explanation of why I enjoy who I am currently with, although I am utterly sure we do not have enough common interests to be just friends and perhaps not enough to be married. But, he clearly does not doubt that I am a person. The fact that this impresses me to the degree that it does, reveals that it was probably what gave me this queasy, uneasy feeling about a few other people I have met in the current century. Shocking.

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  20. And now, continuing the study of the love topic, I have discovered a third relationship which on paper was with an ideally compatible person (late graduate school, another dissertation writer in another discipline). We were friends but got together as a result of everyone else procrastinating and sabotaging each others’ dissertations. He and I were the only people we knew that year who really wanted to finish and to give mutual support for finishing, and that was what started it. Very bad idea and I knew it … yet thought I had to “give it a chance,” as my mother would put it. Bad idea, bad.

    Yet, this is what the students believe in, officially, according to what they said in class today (or it is what they have been taught, as I was). Only one rebel student claimed that infatuation, lust, and love were all aspects of the same phenomenon. “What people call ‘love’ is really attraction and desire, to which an understanding has been added,” said he. “‘True love’ is a lasting attraction with a deep and multifaceted understanding added.”

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    1. “‘‘love’ is really attraction and desire, to which an understanding has been added … True love’ is a lasting attraction with a deep and multifaceted understanding added.”

      Such wonderful definition. Too think this, but wouldn’t express so beautifully.

      What have students exactly said? Surely not that they date people without feeling attraction?

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      1. Have they *said* that, while understanding the distinction? May be they say “judge” but mean “feel”? I can’t believe most young people behave this way. Men too? Aren’t young men supposed to feel lust? (And women too, but today’s culture sometimes ignores that).

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  21. “It’s only when you make your feelings personal that these specks and savages draw in for blood.”

    Yes, this is true, musteryou. But the idea of people not seeing you as a person, and the sign of this being boundary violations, is a really useful rule of thumb to consider. It really applies to the regional culture I live in, for example. When you add to this rule of thumb your other point, that “communication” is only useful when it is in fact possible, then all the strange interactions I have, and also observe in these few parishes and never understand, become comprehensible — it is quite interesting.

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  22. @el — I will ask them more today, and yes, the men and the women say different things. But all insist that lust and love are different and do not coexist. Lust is about physical sensations you have, whereas love is selfless devotion to someone you care about. This split is very common in Catholic US which is where I am, body vs. soul, whore vs. virgin, etc. and it causes trouble. You marry one type of person, but have to have the other type on the side, etc., etc.

    Dating without feeling attraction, there is discussion of this upthread right here. I was taught that the way relationships start is this: 1. a man is interested and eligible. 2. you decide you have interests in common and become friends. 3. if the friendship works, attraction should develop from it … and if not, you “work at it.” This is what was considered proper and many are still taught it, evidently.

    Or, if you are being rebellious, you choose someone for what are currently considered good LOOKS not for attraction you may feel.

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      1. Well yesterday the conversation was like this.

        Students: love and lust are two distinct things.
        Me: Can they sometimes overlap?
        Students: Maybe.
        Me: Can we have love and lust as intersecting circles in a Venn diagram?
        Students: We will concede this (I am not sure they were sincere or just going along with the teacher).
        Me: Draws Venn diagram, which is 2 circles, lust and love, intersecting … at either edge, pure lust and pure love, and in the intersection romantic love, where lust and love overlap.
        Me: Is this Venn diagram a fair representation of the reality under discussion?
        Students: Yes.
        Me: OK. But I would rename the categories. What you call pure lust, I would call masturbation, to a fantasy figure or with a blow-up doll, or perhaps an unfortunate human surrogate for these. What you call pure love, I would call friendship, filial love, things like this. I am proposing that all romantic love has desire as a primary element, and that desire is not base.

        This was of course pretty shocking.

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        1. It is shocking that such self evident things are bog clear to them. But it’s great that you are doing this. Slowly, it will start registering.

          Of course, I agree with your definitions completely. Now I want to conduct this experiment in my classes.

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  23. Now, to continue procrastinating on grading and apparently, also sleeping, I am still working on this. I am looking for Denis de Rougemont’s book but found this blog post on it, helpful. http://madinkbeard.com/archives/love-in-the-western-world/

    Rougemont famously says Western culture opposes passion, which is subversive and also unfulfilled by definition, and satisfied love, which is socially responsible. Romance (prototype = Tristan and Yseult) is the search for fulfillment, and is killed if its goal is attained. Since God is also unattainable, divine love works in the same way.

    So, somehow, the love and lust my students see as opposing realms are really two sides of the same coin. Joining them as they are defined here is impossible, since they must be in conflict, not in confluence.

    This would mean that if you see love and lust as coming together, not separately or warring against each other, and you think it is immaterial whether they are transgressive of the social order or not … these are my views … then you are outside that Western paradigm coming from Christianity and late medieval culture. A pantheist or something, but outside the Western paradigm.

    Hm.

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    1. Very interesting. Definitely Sade sees human decency and lust as warring against each other, therefore he is an inverted Christian. Some people get their kicks by entertaining such an opposition. I have no doubt, this also wrecks their lives, though, ultimately. The Western paradigm is opposed to human happiness.

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      1. Sade is late to the game, poor man, the whole thing had been set up centuries before. I have not read Rougemont since high school and I now want to read him again.

        I was interested in this because I taught some poetic prose by this famous early 20th century writer (Rubén Darío) that talks about love. In one short piece (“Primera impresión”) the character, a child, has the calm and reassuring love of his mother and peace in nature. At 15, he dreams of a dark woman who tells him of, and transmits to him passionate love. Since then he has been unquiet, seeking her and feeling that when he finds her his happiness will surpass that he felt with his mother.

        This is just for an intermediate language class so I didn’t go into all the literary background and ramifications of this, but only said “See? Love is not just sharing and caring!”

        But I really wonder what to say about this text, since in fact R.D. seems to fall into the Rougemont-esque dichotomy here (oder nicht?). At the same time, and as we know, he was heavily influenced by various turn of the century pantheist and related philosophies, where erotic life is itself spiritual (and not because it involves a Christian sacrament, or a marriage that pleases God, but because of the life spirit that is in nature and in things, roughly speaking).

        So now, thinking of Rougemont, I would almost say this text is a critique of that Western paradigm, although I may be reading in too much, and have not looked at much secondary work on this issue in R.D.

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        1. No, I think you are totally right. I’m not a Latin Americanist but I always thought that Dario’s poetry was an attempt to break through the limitations of the Western mentality. He is one of my favorite poets ever. I always include his poetry in my courses (because I’m the professor, so I can do whatever I want). I tell the students that the very first thing to do when approaching his poetry is to learn to relinquish control, at least for a while. Just switch of the “search for a plot” for a moment and give yourself over to the joy of the music, the cadence. We read his poetry with our eyes closed and aloud, swinging our body like a pendulum.

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  24. “I always thought that Dario’s poetry was an attempt to break through the limitations of the Western mentality.”

    That is very interesting. Article material alert here! 🙂

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    1. You totally should write about this! I think it would be a fascinating piece. Dario, I believe, attempts to speak to those parts of us that we tend to repress in order to fit in with the Western social machinery.

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      1. Well, Bataille had certain ideas about the parts of us that don’t fit into the Western social machinery. In particular, he thought these were decline, deterioration, degeneration, body refuse and non-verbal aspects of expression, such as laughter and tears. So he kept trying to reacquaint us with those aspects. On a serious note, his extremely odd views have helped me a great deal, because aging and deterioration used to frighten me. Now I see them as totally part of life. One does not understand what one has and its relative value, unless one juxtaposes it against its loss. The fact that we will lost our lives gives being alive its value. Failing to understand this, we would walk around like robots, moving from one state of being to another (life to death) but without the capacity for reflection.

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        1. I come from a family where the denial of aging is extreme. It’s so bad that it takes really bizarre forms. I feel very out of place in that I can’t bring myself to feel worried about aging. My youth was a disaster and I’m only beginning to feel good about life. So why should I place any premium on the stupid youth?

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  25. Well, step 1 is to actually read de Rougemont and others on the troubadours, whom RD of course liked. Our library has the book, mais en anglais. It appears de Rougemont sees the troubadours as devoping an eros based theology. And this is the root of l’amour-passion, the romance (“lust”) as opposed to the marriage (“mature love”) side of things. So, so far, RD still seems to be in the Western paradigm.

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  26. And, continuing lazy research (Internet play), I see that there is a lot of research to sustain the lust vs love idea … I say it has confirmation bias or something like that, makes unexamined assumptions about categories and ends up just confirming (wrong) common sense and received ideas.

    But, to read, here is a rather interesting Zizek based article on this issue: http://www.offscreen.com/index.php/pages/essays/lust_love/

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  27. I read the beginning of the article, and it seems like it’s that weird mind-body dualism, again, wherein love has to do with philosophical idealism. Philosophical idealism is inherently ungrounded in reality, so it collapses in the face of lust, which is grounded there. I didn’t read more than the first few paragraphs, but there is a typical theme that I see in many Western writers, for instance in Sade’s JUSTINE and in Nietzsche, whereby it is deemed necessary to trash the ideal of the feminine, which is deemed to have been put on a pedestal due to religion (pagan in the first instance, and Christian in the latter). The new value trying to be tested is to destroy reverence for women as such, so that the (male) writer can experience his lust.

    The problem with this solution is that it starts from a psychological projection — women are deemed to represent some essence of transcendence/mystery/love — and then it seeks to destroy the container of that projection (women), via the mode of expressing lust. But it does not destroy the projection. It does not even begin to tackle the root issue of the problem, which is the conceptually-derived opposition between the mind and the body.

    Misogynist solutions to sexual inhibition are to destroy the container of the self-hatred that is projected “out there” as a result of being inhibited about expressing oneself sexually. That is the Sadean solution and it is to some extent Nietzsche’s. For instance, Nietzsche thought women had been granted far to many courtesies by Christianity, and that it was time to institute a warlike, that is (in his view) realistic form of society, that would give no quarter to female pieties.

    Anyway, these are male philosophers philosophizing. The construction of an absolute opposition between mind and body seems not to have originated in women’s philosophizing, but it is a male problem and one the male philosophers have difficulty in figuring out.

    What is needed is better integration of the mind and body, rather than an agenda of destroying women so that one can release one’s lust. It’s an obvious solution, but one that is generally avoided.

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    1. These, though, to counter my students and what their priests have told them, are the things that stand out for me in the first few paragraphs:

      – it is love that is the real taboo
      – love has disappeared from cinema (may be getting more taboo)

      So, for all the exaltation of love and pooh-poohing of lust, hah! look what really happens.

      I don’t have enough patience for Lacan or Zizek, but your point on mind-body dualism does explain a great deal.

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  28. “…when her physiology was taken hostage by the patriarchal conditioning.”

    So, I am still working on this. Fueled in part by the fact that I am teaching narrative and the love theme is in many of the texts, and I have a TA so we have to discuss said texts jointly to prepare class.

    Going back to the question implied in the quotation, above, from the original post, I suddenly realize why I am able to see all the poor logic in the love vs. lust, have desire grow out of friendship, etc. model so many of us were taught. It is not all for happy reasons.

    According to my mother, I would not be able to attract a partner I would want, only one who might put up with me and therefore, support me … but they would be the choosers and deciders, not I. This did not make me an eager marriage seeker but did left me free to pursue relationships that at least worked sexually.

    My mother’s ideas are, obviously, extremely patriarchal but it is as though she had informed me it would be very hard to get into the patriarchal system so I didn’t try.

    How odd.

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    1. How interesting! So the bar to the entrance into a patriarchal relationship was presented to you as being so high that you gave up on the entire project from the get-go. This shows that this system carries within itself seeds of its own destruction: in order to attract women to the patriarchal system, such a relationship should be presented as a rare feat, as something hard to achieve and, hence, valuable. As a result, there will be women who will not even try to get it and will come out winning as a result.

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  29. “That’s what the Christian evangelicals are preaching, that love is the most radical thing eva.”

    What do they say love is?

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    1. Love is sacrifice for one’s betrothed. The male, as representative of Christ lays down his life for his wife whilst the wife submits to her husband in honor of the Jesus entity. Thus both lay down their lives for each other to the glory of respective deity.

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        1. It’s unnecessary, unless you hold that human nature is basically evil and the only way good can come about is through self-denial. My female cousin practices this kind of religion. She may think it is the only way to avoid an abusive relationship, such as her previous marriage.

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  30. Well, I do not know where my parents learned it but they did. I would not say they believe human nature is evil, but they do apparently believe the world is.

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    1. In my family, it wasn’t the man and the woman sacrificing for each other, it was parents sacrificing for their children. Need I mention that the children for whom a lifetime of sexual misery is tolerated are somehow not made super happy by this sacrifice?

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      1. Oh yes, we had that too, love was nothing but sacrifice and self mutilation, basically. And guilt, since people had so sacrificed for you. It is ridiculous.

        However, I absorbed some of it, or used to be vulnerable to falling into it. It took me a long time to understand that it really was all right (i.e. not immoral) to be in a relationship primarily because you want to and not because they want you to, for instance.

        Like

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